Begonias are often overlooked and underappreciated in the garden. Most buy the small waxy leafed Begonias with tiny red or pink leaves. But there is much, much more to a Begonia!
Begonias range from small to large. Some are very flamboyant and others are appreciated mostly for their wildly colored variegated leaves. Begonias are often grouped in different categories. Most people think of the Fibrous Begonias with the waxy leaves and small flowers that are usually used as bedding plants. These are found in abundance in nurseries.
Tuberous Begonias have roots that resemble potatoes. They produce large and often double blooms in a wide range of colors. Many times, these are grown in hanging baskets or containers. The roots can be stored during the winter and replanted in the spring.
Many don’t realize there is a hardy Begonia that will grow in Zone 6 or higher. The smaller flowers are often pink or white and do well in shady areas of your garden. I grew the pink ones and always wanted the white flowering variety. A few years ago, I was so thankful a Facebook friend sent me two small white flowering hardy Begonias. The pink and white Begonias growing together, mixed in with the ferns and Hosta is a real treat!
Cane Begonias are the largest, growing on long stems, that some says resemble bamboo stalks. Some varieties have spotted leaves. Angel-wing Begonias have long leaves that resemble wings and are often grown as a houseplant.
My favorite Begonia, is a cane type called Dragon Wing. In a season, they can grow large and produce nonstop masses of deep red or pink flowers. I always buy several Dragon Wings and place them all over my garden.
Most Begonias do not like temperatures below 50F. Many Begonias can be brought indoors during the winter and will continue to bloom in a sunny window or under grow lights. Some will go dormant and can be stored and replanted the next spring.
Rex Begonias are usually grown as a houseplant and are more appreciated for their wildly colored leaves. The textures and colors are endless! Rex Begonias produce small clusters of flowers, and are more appreciated during the winter months grown indoors when there are few flowers to enjoy!
I’m excited about two new heirloom begonias I recently purchased. Polka Dot Begonia is an Angel-Wing with the reverse side, a rich red blush, with clusters of white blooms. This was first introduced in 1821 and will bloom all winter.
My second new Begonia, Fuchsia Begonia, ‘Rose’ was introduced in 1846. This trailing Begonia produces clusters of rosy colored flowers and will bloom all winter in a sunny window!
This spring, when you are scouting out flowers for containers, foregoes the common wax leafed Begonias and try some other types. I guarantee you will love them!
Image by Marjon Besteman